Philippines launches world’s first national human rights investigation into 50 big polluters

Press release - December 4, 2015
UPDATED: Paris/Manila - The Philippines Commission on Human Rights (CHR) announced that it will launch an investigation on December 10 (International Human Rights Day), which could hold fossil fuel companies responsible for the impacts of climate change, such as extreme weather events. This will be the world's first national human rights investigation into big polluters.

The 50 companies that will be investigated include Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, and ConocoPhillips. They are part of the 90 legal entities that are responsible for the majority of global carbon and methane emissions in the earth’s atmosphere, as identified by peer-reviewed research into so-called ‘Carbon Majors’ published in 2014.[1]

“The response of the Philippines’ Human Rights Commission to the petition signals a turning point in the struggle to avoid catastrophic climate change. It opens a critical new avenue of struggle against the fossil fuel companies driving destructive climate change,” said Kumi Naidoo, the International Executive Director at Greenpeace International.

“This should hopefully inspire other human rights commissions around the world to take similar action. If I were a CEO of a fossil fuel company, I would be running scared. This is yet another indication that we are seeing the end of the fossil fuel era.”

The CHR disclosed in a press conference on 4 December in Paris that its investigation will involve all stakeholders including the 50 corporations, and include consultations and studies. As triggered by the petition, it will organize an investigation committee devoted to climate change and human rights.

“This investigation is not just about how fossil fuel companies do business, but that they do business at all in the future. It’s time we held to account those who are most responsible for the devastating effects of climate change,” said Zelda Soriano, legal and political advisor at Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

“We’re absolutely behind the Commission on Human Rights in seeking the opinion and cooperation of UN human rights experts and scientists, and its courageous investigation into these distant and faceless companies.”

Greenpeace Southeast Asia, together with 14 organizations and 20 individuals, filed the petition on 22 September 2015 calling for this investigation to take place. Over 100,000 signatures have been gathered in support of the initiative online from Change.org, SumOfUs and Greenpeace Southeast Asia, while eight international NGOs also provided advice and support[2]. Among other requests, the complaint asks for the CHR:

  • to officially put these companies on notice,

  • to request plans from these companies on how they intend to eliminate, remedy and prevent damages (or threatened damages) resulting from the impacts of climate change, and;

  • to recommend to the government that it provides human rights mechanisms where  victims of climate change can be monitored and assisted.

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Notes to editors:

[1] Heede, Richard (2014) Tracing anthropogenic CO2 and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers 1854-2010, Climatic Change, vol. 122(1): 229-241; doi:10.1007/s10584-013-0986-y

[2] The Climate Change and Human Rights complaint

[3] Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s online petition calling for an investigation

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Media contacts:

JP Agcaoili, Communications Manager
Email: | Mobile: +63 977 6927 475

Zelda Soriano, Legal and Political Advisor
Email:  | Mobile: +639175949424

Greenpeace International Press Desk, , phone: +31 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)

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